About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Should We Give To?
have been taught to give to their local church because that’s where
they’re fed. I understand
this reasoning, but its more self-serving than anything else.
Such giving provides a nice comfortable place for us to meet,
eat, play sports and more, but doesn’t seem to fit New Testament
thinking about how churches should spend their money.
Besides, we should be feeding ourselves more than we do.
I study the New Testament I note that the most predominant recipients of
both our personal and our church giving should be to our poor brothers
and sisters in Jesus. There’s
many poor Christians scattered throughout the world, and in our local
churches that desperately need help.
The sad fact of the matter is that many churches don’t have
sufficient funds to help their own poor let alone poor people in foreign
countries, and it’s not because people don’t give.
It’s because the priority of church finances is designated to
organizational things, not people. A
quick glance at most church’s financial statements speaks volumes
about their spending priorities.
place we’re told give to is our immediate family.
If we don’t provide for them we’re worse than an unbeliever.
(1 Tim. 5:8)
know from 1 Cor. 9 that Christian leaders are entitled to our financial
support. How much financial support is not stated.
Paul for the most part chose not to receive such support, and
when he did he passed it on to others. (2 Cor. 11:7-10) Paul’s
mentality is seen in 2 Cor. 12:15 where he says, “I will very gladly
spend for you everything I have…”.
The word “you” refers to “people”, not an organization.
I suggested to one pastor that Paul’s example might be worth
considering for today’s leaders. He told me that was Paul’s personal
choice, not his.
have no problem supporting Christian leaders who serve our Lord.
That’s clearly New Testament thinking. The word “serve” is
the key because Christian
leaders are to be servants. That’s why we call them “ministers”. Most
times when you read the word “minister” and other related words in
the New Testament, they’re translated from the Greek word
“diakonos” which means “to serve, or a servant”, depending on
whether “diakonos” is used as a noun or a verb.
Pastoring then is all
about serving, not about being served.
ministers are not always servants. They’re
often paid professionals, CEOs who make a very good living at being
salaries are often much higher than the average person’s salary in
their church. This places
them in an elevated position over and above God’s people. This is not
New Testament thinking. Christian leaders serve from a place of
humility. Paul says in 2
Cor. 11:7 that “he lowered
himself to elevate” the Corinthians.
But once again, maybe that was Paul’s personal choice and has
no relevance for us today.
might say that today’s Christian leaders deserve every bit of their
high salary for all the work they do.
Well, if we’d follow New Testament teaching concerning church,
they wouldn’t have to be “jack
of all trades”. I think a
pastor’s salary should reflect the average salary of those he’s
caring for, which places him along side the people, not above them.
in any corporation, salaries, building and program expenses take up the
bulk of the budget. This
chokes the financial life out of a church.
Buildings that were built to serve the mission of the church have
become a financial burden in many cases, leaving nothing left for true
Scriptural priorities. We
now serve the building instead of it serving us.
in the early 1970’s some of us young Christians were discipled by our
good friend Glenn Shaver, who some of you know.
He taught us that Christian giving is all about giving to people,
which is New Testament thinking. Such
giving enabled me to attend
the last few years my wife and I have not been associated with a
traditional church. That doesn’t mean we’re not a functioning part
of the Body of Christ, because we are.
It does mean that the joy of giving has returned to my life.
I now begin to close my thesis where I began.
Whereas once I gave to church needs out of
routine and obligation, I now find joy by giving to individuals
or groups in need without expecting a tax receipt in return. We may give
to help those need or to simply bless them.
Whatever the case, we do give with cheerfulness, doing as Glenn
Shaver taught us years ago. I
suppose if we all gave this way we’d have to rethink our church
structure altogether, which might not be a bad idea.
The suggestion that the Law of
Moses has been laid aside and the Ten Commandments have been redefined
brings some opposition. Paul
had the same opposition when people said he was preaching, “let us sin
so grace can abound”. (Rom. 6:1) I’m
not teaching a license to sin and neither was Paul.
That’s taking advantage of God’s grace, as is the case when
we depend on law and not God’s grace.
you’re really fixed on tithing then you should tithe as the Old
Testament demands, and that means 23.3 %.
If you can do that cheerfully from your heart, and not teach
others to do the same, you
get a little closer to New Testament thinking, but you’re still a long
show that Christians don’t tithe as they once did, even though they
believe and teach tithing. My
guess is that many don’t tithe because they’ve slacked off in their
spiritual fervor. This is no reason to stop tithing.
You stop tithing and start giving because you understand New
close with 2 Cor. 9:12 . It reads, “this service that you perform is
not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing
in many expressions in thanks to God”.
The service that Paul speaks of here is the collection for the
poor saints in
I leave you with my simplest definition that I can
come up with for the New Testament’s teaching on the giving of our
money. “We give
cheerfully, generously, out of a pure love for Jesus according to our
ability to give, understanding that we have more to give than just
what I’ve said and may our Lord give you the understanding in all
things. Thanks for reading.